James H. Thorp

Welcome to the Research and Teaching Programs of Prof. James H. Thorp


Thank you for taking the time to investigate my teaching and research activities at the University of Kansas. Below are some sections addressing these topics in a general way. More detailed information in some cases is available elsewhere on our lab website.



I have recently altered my teaching schedule to include only two courses:

  • Biol 520: an undergraduate course in Marine Biology taught in the spring semesters of even numbered years;
  • Biol 661: a graduate/upper-division course entitled Ecology of Rivers and Lakes taught in the spring of future, odd-numbered years.

I also periodically contribute individual lectures to some graduate level classes.


Graduate Education:

As described in a separate document on graduate student philosophy, I accept both Masters and Ph.D. graduate students. At the present time (fall semester of 2015), I have two Masters students and one Ph.D. student. Over the next six years, I may mentor four additional students (Masters and/or Ph.D. students). After that point, acceptance of new students will depend on my plans for: (a) maintaining a full-time academic position; (b) entering a 3-yr phased retirement program; or (c) becoming a emeritus professor (writing, doing some research, probably not supervising students or teaching and definitely not attending faculty and committee meetings). I want to mentor any new students through their entire graduate program at KU, and that is a major factor controlling the number of additional students that I will accept in the future.


Book Publishing:

I have been publishing books on freshwater ecology and freshwater invertebrates for over two decades (see my vitae) including:

  • Thorp, J.H., M.C. Thoms, and M.D. Delong. 2008. The riverine ecosystem synthesis. Academic Press, Boston, MA, USA. 208 p.
  • Thorp, J.H. and D.C. Rogers. 2011. Field guide to freshwater invertebrates of North America. Elsevier, Boston, MA. 274 p
  • Three editions (1991, 2001, 2010) of Thorp, J.H. and A.P. Covich (eds.). Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates. Academic Press, Elsevier.


I am currently working on a major project to publish up to 11 volumes on freshwater invertebrates around the world. The series is entitled Thorp and Covich’s freshwater invertebrates (Elsevier, Waltham, MA). It is listed as the fourth edition in order to link it with my 1991, 2001, and 2010 books that were focused on North America only. Thus far, we have published or have “in press”:

  • Thorp, J.H. and D.C. Rogers (eds.). 2015. Volume I. Ecology and general biology. 1091 p.
  • Thorp, J.H. and D.C. Rogers (eds.). 2016. Volume II. Keys to Nearctic fauna (actual publication in late 2015 or early 2016).

In addition to these two books in the series, we have four more under contract and in various stages of development. These four volumes focus on taxonomic keys for various groups of invertebrates in the Palaearctic (1 book), Neotropics (2 books), and Australian Bioregion (1 book). Discussions are currently underway with a coeditor eager to lead development of two books on Oriental Fauna. Please see the website on: Books on Freshwater Invertebrates.


Research Interests and Activities:

Some scientists adopt a narrow but intense focus during their careers on certain organisms or a limited breadth of research questions and techniques. If you scan my list of research publications, however, you will note that I have published on an exceedingly wide range of subjects in aquatic systems, ranging from population to macrosystem levels and in a variety of freshwater systems (springs, creeks, rivers, wetlands, and lakes). I have focused at times on lab and field experiments, descriptive field studies, and conceptual modeling. Some of my research choices have been in response to available grant support, but in other cases my grants have been in response to ideas that especially excited me. I am interested in both fundamental and applied research.

Within the fundamental ecology area, I am currently focused on three research areas: (a) food web ecology in rivers; (b) effects of hydrogeomorphology on ecological processes in rivers; and (c) responses of riverine macrosystems (system metabolism, food webs, and biodiversity traits) to river structure, climate, faunal naturalness, riparian condition, dams, and climatic patterns. I am also collaborating with one of my graduate students (Rachel Bowes) on a number of intriguing studies on riverine food webs and techniques to evaluate them (see separate web sites).

Within the applied research area, I have always been most intrigued by how human interactions with the natural environment have altered basic ecosystem structure and functioning. Drs. Christopher Rogers, Brian O’Neill, and I just completed two EPA funded research projects on the biota and ecology of ephemeral wetlands in the Great Plains (playas), many of which have been disturbed by cattle grazing and row crop agriculture. For more information on these wetland research projects, see the web site on EPA Playa Research.

My major study for the next 5-6 years (September 2015 to at least 2021) will be on our project funded through the Macrosystem Biology program at NSF. The grant is entitled “Hierarchical Functioning of River Macrosystems in Temperate Steppes – From Continental to Hydrogeomorphic Patch Scales. NSF Macrosystems Biology.” For more information on this major collaborative study, see the web site on NSF Macrosystem Biology of Temperate Steppe Rivers.

General Information and Contact

Prof. James H. Thorp, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey, University of Kansas, 104a Higuchi Hall, 2101 Constant Ave, Lawrence, KS 66047-3759 USA Professor, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology   Email: thorp@ku.edu   Office: 785-864-1532 Lab: 785-864-1533 Fax: 785-864-1534  

Professional Profile

Curriculum Vitae: James H. Thorp   Kansas Biological Survey and Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Kansas, 104a Higuchi Hall, 2101 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047–3759; 785-864-1532; thorp@ku.edu.                                                                         Synopsis   Current Position: Professor Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (2001 to … Continue reading Professional Profile

Publications and Books

Full List of Publications – James H. Thorp BOOKS (Authored and/or Edited): Thorp, J.H. (ed.). Thorp and Covich’s Freshwater Invertebrates. Academic Press, Waltham, MA. Thorp, J.H. and D.C. Rogers (ed.). 2015. Volume I. Ecology and general biology. 1091 pages [41 chapters] Thorp, J.H. and D.C. Rogers (eds.). 2016. Volume II. Keys to Nearctic fauna. [16 … Continue reading Publications and Books